good life by amy baird
Part of cultivating a good life is preserving the relationship with a difficult child.
As parents we have the responsibility to set guidelines, principles, and rules by which we expect our children to live. At a very young age, we need to let our children know what is expected from them while living in our homes. Typically, the rules created in each of our homes will be determined by how we were raised, our personal values, and our religious beliefs.
Many of us might have children who disregard these rules at a very young age. Others may not experience a disobedient child until they reach their teenage years. Whereas, some will have children that abandon lifelong principles as adults. Several years ago my husband and I found ourselves struggling with a very difficult and disobedient teenager. I felt so much resentment, stress, and heartache. I often found myself being consumed and concerned by the opinions and judgments of others. I not only allowed the embarrassment, shame, and anger to negatively affect the relationship with my child, but I also allowed it to affect my personal happiness.
During this time I was so focused in on the disobedient actions of my child that I neglected to truly love my child. I invested too much time and energy with angry and contentious emotions. I was failing to recognize that the anger and contention was not only destroying the relationship with my child but also other relationships within my family.
A while later I came across two thoughts that provided me invaluable insight and softened my heart. In a talk entitled “Joy in the Journey” given by Thomas S. Monson, he stated, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” I found such wisdom in this short, yet powerful phrase.
At this same time I was also reading a book written by Marjorie Hinckley entitled Glimpses. She shared an experience of giving advice to her granddaughter who was struggling with one of her children. Marjorie’s counsel to her was to “just save the relationship.” This additional understanding was life changing for me. It created within me a desire to preserve the relationship with my difficult child. It provided me with a deeper understanding that it is unconditional love that strengthens, motivates, and causes change in behavior.
For those of you who are currently struggling with a difficult child, my heart goes out to you. My advice to you would simply be to preserve the relationship no matter what! I am grateful to be a mother, and although there have been many days, months, and years where that responsibility has not been easy, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I sincerely love my children and I am thankful for the life lessons learned because of them, specifically because of my difficult child. Although my husband and I have not changed or compromised the rules within our home, I am so grateful for that pivotal moment when I realized that the love I have for my child is far more important than any guideline or rule. The necessary principles are unconditional love and preserving the relationship.
Note from Becky
I am grateful for my friendship with Amy and so thankful for many things I have learned from her. I witnessed just a sliver of her heartache while she was in the thick of it all. From an outside perspective, I always felt that she was going to learn valuable lessons from the trials she was facing. And when we learn things … especially “the hard way,” it is a gift to share that with others so they can benefit from greater understanding. So thank you Amy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing to share your experience and wisdom with others who have also experienced, or are currently experiencing, what has been a heavy trial for you. May we all feel more inspired to share in ways that will be helpful to others.